Paul Massie, Ford Customer Service Division, said the carmaker launched an investigation of selected aftermarket copy structural parts after Ford employees attending a CIC meeting witnessed the aftermarket parts demonstrations presented by Toby Chess in November 2009 and January 2010. Massie said that the car company felt that its customers' safety may be at risk after watching the results of Chess going at aftermarket and OEM parts with his reciprocating saw.
After Chess' demonstration, Ford engineers conducted a series of scientific tests that compared aftermarket parts to original equipment parts by measuring a wide range of properties including; material weight and thickness, manufacturing processes used to construct the part, dimensional and structural integrity, impact performance and identification of the raw materials used to make the part.
Ford tested the 05-09 Mustang front and rear bumper beams, 08-09 Focus front and rear bumper beams, bumper isolators for both above vehicles, 04-07 F-150 Bumper brackets and 04-07 F-150 Radiator Core support. There were significant structural differences between the aftermarket copy parts and the OEM parts. In addition, the aftermarket parts were found to be thinner, lighter and manufactured with inferior production processes.
Ford's investigation also subjected the parts to simulated crash performance tests through a Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) analysis. This was done by constructing computer models of the parts and subjecting them to virtual crash testing. Parts chosen for CAE were the 05-09 Mustang front bumper beam, 05-09 Mustang rear bumper beam and 04-07 F-150 radiator support.
According to Ford's analysis, the CAE tests predicted that when mounted on a vehicle, inferior aftermarket parts would significantly alter the car's ability to absorb and direct crash energy. This change in energy absorption was noted by differences in the forces and timing of the vehicle's deceleration during impact. This change in the timing of deceleration leads to concerns about the timing of airbag deployment.
Ultimately Ford came to the conclusion that the aftermarket parts tested do not meet the test of “Like Kind and Quality” required by approximately 20 states for use in collision repair according to their test results.
In his conclusion, Massie said that Ford is planning to Work with industry trade associations, Automobile Alliance, governmental and regulatory agencies, elected officials for oversight of aftermarket parts and their impact on the safety of the driving public.
"We have already begun that process and we have met with a congresswoman," Massie confirmed.